We are only one week into the school year and a 34-year-old teacher in the community died of Covid. Just last week a 15-year-old soccer player across town collapsed on the field and died during her game. Everyone is in shock. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a mother tosses her baby over a security fence hoping the soldiers will save his life because she knows that her life will not be spared. A devastating earthquake collapses buildings and homes on an already poor island nation. Floodwaters wash away cars and people in a quiet town in Tennessee. With no end in sight for some of these events, many are feeling on edge. You might be one of them.
You may be wondering:
- Does God know the world is getting worse?
- How do you get rid of the edge feeling?
- What does the Bible say about feeling on edge?
- How do you cope with scary current events?
- Is there any good news?
These questions deserve answers.
Does God know the world is getting worse?
Every day it seems that somewhere in the world tragedy is happening. If that is all we focus on we could panic thinking life has never been this bad. The truth is that the world goes through cycles where everything is somewhat peaceful, followed by horrible current events.
At the time when Jesus was young, all boys under 2 years old were killed to try to eliminate what a jealous ruler perceived as a threat to his authority. Really? He was barely 2 years old. Jesus’ father was warned of this and they escaped to another country.
Rome’s Nero was an evil leader. He burned Christians as torch lights for his garden parties.
In ancient times, as well as today in some parts of the world, people burn children as sacrifices to gods that don’t even exist.
I don’t want to minimize the things that are happening today, but is the world really getting worse? Or is it just part of the cycles that happen because we live in a sinful, imperfect world? God knows and He promises to be with us in these trying and difficult times. He is the reason we don’t have to feel on edge about current events.
What does feeling on edge mean?
Merriam-Wester defines “feeling on edge” as
“feeling nervous” or “not calm and relaxed.” It is used to say that someone is having feelings of being worried and afraid about what might happen.”
So are you feeling worried and afraid about what might happen? Then you are feeling on edge. Usually, there are circumstances that heighten these feelings such as the pandemic, national disasters, and unfavorable government actions and policies.
Some people experience extreme feelings of being on edge, which is called hypervigilance. It is often triggered by sounds or situations that remind the person of past events. Many war veterans suffer from this disorder. Some call it PTSD. Hypervigilance is beyond the scope of this writer and is not what this article is about.
What does the Bible say about feeling on edge?
The Bible does not use the words “feeling on edge”. But don’t let that bother you. This phrase is a modern one. However, the Bible does talk about worry, anxiety, and fear. Here are a few Scriptures that we need to remember.
- “When I am afraid I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 ESV
- “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’ ” Hebrews 13:6
- “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes before you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
- “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
- “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
- “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25
- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
What to do when feeling on edge
Life for many is turned upside down. No one seems to know what normal is any more. How do you cope with anxiety and stress over current events? I would like to suggest 12 strategies.
- Don’t future trip
- Refocus your thoughts
- Remember you are not alone
- Deep breathe
- Get moving
- Talk to a friend
- Don’t feed sweets to your feelings
- Find something to laugh about
- Force yourself to smile
- Listen to encouraging music
- Pray about current events using Scripture
- Continue doing your usual activities
1. Don’t future trip
One of the worst things to do when feeling on edge is to mind travel into the future. Many times the things that we worry about never come about. So why even go down that road if we don’t have to? If it is needed for having a plan “just in case”, then it is warranted. For the most part, stay focused on the present and what you have control over.
2. Refocus your thoughts when feeling on edge
“Take every tought captive to obey Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
We may not have control over our circumstances, but we do have control over our thoughts. And the more we feed our minds with Scripture, Godly music, and Christian books, the easier it will be to take our thoughts captive.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
This way of thinking is important. There also is the 3-3-3 rule for anxiety used by psychologists. These actions help slow down our racing minds over what might happen. Basically, you are to
- Think about and name three things you see
- Think about and name three sounds you hear
- Think about and move three parts of your body
Furthermore, I would add “find three things to be thankful for.” Developing a sense of gratitude helps refocus our thoughts.
3. Remember you are not alone
Being alone makes it hard to focus on the present, what we have control over, and switching our thoughts to good things. Yet sometimes there will be no friends or family present. In these situations, we need to start talking to God because He is always with us.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, ‘the Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’ ” Hebrews 13:5-6
4. Deep breath when feeling on edge
Deep breathing forces us to breathe slower. It also helps us get more oxygen into our lungs. People who are worried tend to breathe shallow and faster. Deep breathing helps break that cycle. Do it as often as is necessary. It is good for our overall health and helps us stay in the present time-space.
5. Get moving
Exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to all parts of our body. This in turn helps us feel better. So what kind of exercise should we be doing? Anything that our health will allow. It could be walking, running, jumping jacks, or even something as simple as lifting and lowering our arms. The more active we are the more we will benefit from exercise.
6. Talk to a friend
Sometimes our thoughts go to the worst-case scenario without us even realizing it. Discussing our feelings with a trusted friend can bring perspective to the situation.
For instance, most people have experienced a certain amount of fear regarding the pandemic. What if I get sick? Will I die? What would my family do without me? These are questions that can become an out-of-control wildfire in the forest of our minds. The truth is that over 90% who have gotten sick have survived.
In regards to evil leaders, I don’t want to be insensitive to the plight of innocent people caught in the crossfire of misguided, violent regimes who falsely believe they are serving God. But even in the most difficult situations, we know as Christians that this world is not our home. The worst-case scenario actually would lead us directly to the arms of Jesus where there is no more fear, pain, sorrow, or death. Instead, in His presence is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. This thought is found in Psalm 16:11b.
7. Don’t feed sweets to your feelings
Many studies have shown that sweets are the enemy of calm and peace. Sugar actually increases anxiety. So when I feel nervous and want to bing on dark chocolate and iced cream, I am doing myself a disfavor. A better choice would be vegetables, fruits, or proteins.
8. Find something to laugh about
So what is so special about laughter? First, we can’t laugh without breathing deeply. It also releases “happy hormones” into our bloodstream and makes us feel better.
Laughter is good for us. Sometimes I laugh at some of the things our animals do on the farm. Other times a “play on words” is just what I need. Additionally, there are many movies that can keep me almost rolling on the floor laughing. What are some things that make you laugh?
Proverbs 17:22 tells us: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Go ahead and laugh. It’s good for you.
9. Force yourself to smile
Smiling is almost as effective as laughing for helping a person feel better. When you have to be quiet, though, smiling is a good alternative. Even a forced smile releases happy hormones into the bloodstream.
10. Listen to encouraging music
Listening to Christian music that reminds you of Scripture is a good way to help ease feeling on edge. If you don’t have any available, then sing songs that tell you the truth about life.
11. Pray about current events using Scripture
Dear Lord, ____________________ has happened (you fill in the blank). I am scared because I don’t know what the future holds. King David said, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” (Psalm 56:3) Lord, I choose to do the same.
Help me to keep my eyes on you because your Word says, “They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)
And Lord, your word also says that if I need wisdom I should ask you for it. (James1:5). I don’t know what to do, but I am trusting you to give me your wisdom in this situation.
Your word also says that you will turn bad things into good (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28). I trust you and know that someday I will understand.
Finally, Lord, Your word says not to worry, but to pray, which I am doing, and to give thanks (Philippians 4:6-7). I want to thank you that you know what is happening, and you will always be with me (Hebrews 13:5-6, Deuteronomy 31:6). Help me Lord to trust you, to love others, and to be a light to this dark world. Thank you, in Jesus’ name.
12. Continue doing your usual activitie when feeling on edge
When the Israelites were taken into captivity in about 608 – 538 B.C, I am sure it was a very frightening thing. There really was no way to know how it would play out. They had lost almost everything they owned and were servants to the country that had taken them captive. I suppose it would be much like being a refugee nowadays: displaced, humiliated, possibly not able to speak their captor’s language, devoid of a home, concern for family and friends, without a job, and no usable currency.
Even though their lives were turned upside down, Scripture tells us that the Israelites were instructed by God to continue to marry and have children, celebrate holidays, and do all the familiar things they were accustomed to. You see, doing our usual activities creates routine and a sense of having some control. This in turn reduces our feeling on edge.
Is there any good news?
Not only is there good news, but it is the best news ever. God made a way for us to have forgiveness of sin and thus peace with the past, joy for today, and hope for tomorrow. This is what we call the gospel. The word “gospel” means good news.
Another piece of good news is that God tells us regardless of what is going on around us, His plans for us are good.
God has also given us the Bible so that we can know how to live whether life is easy or not. He has also promised that His spirit will bring to our memory all the teachings of Jesus. This is good news because we don’t always have a Bible with us when we need God’s help and guidance.
The key to benefiting from this good news is a personal relationship with Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus yet, you probably have questions. You can talk, text, or chat with the good people at Chat About Jesus. Their toll-free number is 1-888-NEED-HIM. Or go to their website, chataboutjesus.com. Someone is waiting there to talk to you.
Many individuals can overcome and cope with feeling on edge. However, irritability and anxiety can also be symptoms of mental health disorders. If you have tried the above suggestions and are not getting any relief, you probably need some extra help from a professional. Be sure to talk to your doctor, but to get some immediate information, SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
For those who are able to use the suggestions in this article, keep on keeping on. Whatever threatens to shake our world physically or emotionally is no match with God our creator. So don’t future trip, refocus your thoughts, remember you are not alone, deep breath, get moving, talk to friends, don’t feed sweets to your feelings, find something to laugh and smile about, listen to encouraging music, pray Scripture, and continue doing your usual activities. These strategies will help reduce your feeling on edge with current events.
You may also like to read:
- Are your thoughts holding you captive?
- Overcoming fear in a world of uncertainty
- Who your friends are and why it matters
- 7 reasons to laugh when you don’t feel like it
- How to find hope through Christian music
- Her secret? Pray about everything